Historic commission balks at courthouse plan

June 11, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer Staff Writer JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

The Annapolis Historic District Commission expressed strong reservations yesterday about the size and scale of a proposed $43 million Circuit Courthouse near Annapolis' Church Circle.

The commission approved the concept of building the courthouse at the Church Circle location, as well as the use of Annapolis brick and stone to construct the building. It also agreed that the county could build a courthouse of 250,000 square feet, along with a 30,000-square-foot underground garage.

The commission approved the county's proposal to restore the historic 1824 courthouse fronting Church Circle, which would be used as an entrance to the new complex.

But commission members were troubled by the size of the proposed building, which would take up most of the block. They asked county officials and architect Howard I. Melton to come back to the commission June 22 with a building design that better relates to the surrounding buildings in the Historic District.

After the meeting, city officials warned the commission against forcing the courthouse out of Annapolis.

"It would be very damaging if that courthouse moves out of town," Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins said. "They [the commission] had better take that into very serious consideration."

County officials said they were not disappointed by the meeting and that they intend to continue working with commission members to come up with an acceptable design.

"We think we have a couple of weeks we can invest in a discussion of these issues," said Jerome W. Klasmeier, the county's central services officer.

The county is hoping to break ground in August 1994.

The design of the new courthouse includes a brick facade with windows and stone cornices.

Joan Abel, a member of the historic commission, said she found the county's proposal unacceptable because it did not preserve and enhance the district's historic character.

"I believe it's important to keep the Anne Arundel Courthouse in the city of Annapolis," Ms. Abel said. "But that doesn't mean there aren't other sites within the city of Annapolis that might not be suitable."

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